Costumes go couture for haute Halloween

Alainah Paul’s Dior-inspired Halloween couture costume.
Photo: Sarah Feldberg

Dior doesn’t make Halloween costumes, but if it did, the venerable fashion house’s line would likely be elegant, sexy and effortlessly sophisticated. It might look something like the Halloween frock Las Vegas design student Alainah Paul created based on the label’s inspiration.

Forget schoolgirls in knee socks and bumblebees in tutu tulle, Paul’s design featured a plunging V neckline and tiered skirt of black lace. It drew on Dior’s signature style, but was tweaked to satisfy the student’s eye. By itself it looked appropriate for a black tie gala; accessorized with a feather-adorned mask the gown transformed into an Eyes Wide Shut masquerade number. On Nicole Kidman, the dress would be divine.

“You get your original inspirational from the designer and you try to keep the elements in mind, but you try to not even look at any pictures and push it out of your head, so you do something that’s you and not a copy cat of the designer,” explained Paul as she showed off the dress, which will factor into a larger line she’s currently working on.

Costumes Go Couture

Paired with the mask, Paul’s ensemble was part of the International Academy of Design and Technology’s Halloween Couture exhibit and runway show. The runway show, held on Saturday, Oct. 24 at Fashion Show Mall, served as the culmination of an assignment that charged Henderson fashion students with creating haute couture Halloween outfits inspired by a favorite designer. Paul chose Dior. Classmate Jenna Sinatra picked Giorgio Armani, and others felt the gravitational pull of more theatrical designers like Alexander McQueen and Betsey Johnson.

Handmade Halloween

“The assignment was for all of us to create something based around Halloween from an inspiration from a designer,” said Sinatra next to her gown, a striking two-tone number with a matching eye mask embellished with crystals. “The theme I was going for was two-face, the whole black and white masquerade, good and evil type theme.”

The resulting gown looked like something out of Cruella De Vil’s closet – dramatic and simple with clean lines and a definite severity.

Sitting at a back table in an IADT classroom, Natalie Chavez pinned fabric in place for a couture Halloween look totally different from Sinatra’s stark silhouette, a Betsey Johnson-inspired ballerina dress. A petticoat sat on the mannequin next to her, and two Betsey Johnson bags rested on the table in front of a swath of pink fabric.

“I love Betsey Johnson; she’s one of my favorite, favorite designers. I just love the craziness,” Chavez gushed. “She’s very, very out of the norm. … Her dresses and her gowns are just very elaborate, very prom.”

Chavez modeled her couture costume after an outfit from Johnson’s regular line that she had seen the designer wear – very pink, very ballet, very Betsey Johnson. It seemed the perfect starting point for a Halloween-friendly frock.


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IADT Las Vegas

“I’ve been working on it for, I want to say, five weeks now,” Chavez said of her dress, which was slated to be her first piece featured in a runway show.

Graded on drawing, sewing, pattern-making, concept and technical skill, creating a costume for the school’s Halloween exhibit was much like crafting an outfit for any other fashion school assignment, only with more a tad more freedom.

“Halloween is probably one of the things where we can really let ourselves go,” said fashion depart program chair Carolyn Thomas, adding, “We always dress to a certain persona. In other words, we put on an act every time we get up in the morning and get dressed. Halloween is just the ultimate act of putting on a persona and being somebody else.”

As for whether the students will be changing personas courtesy of their own designs this Halloween, Paul, for one, said no.

“I love Halloween. I think it’s fun to just get dressed up and be whoever you want to be for five minutes,” she said. “For some reason, I always decide to be a man. Last year I was Elton John and this year I want to be Sid Vicious.”

Photo of Sarah Feldberg

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